Scarborough: Voter Suppression Is Nonexistent Because Wisconsin GOP Turnout Was High

The Morning Joe host mocked complaints about the impact of voter ID laws on Wednesday morning, pointing to high GOP voter turnout as proof it is overstated.
joe scarborough wisconsin

You can always count on Joe Scarborough to smugly and wrongly denounce concerns coming from the left, usually by pointing to something that really doesn’t prove his point. Wednesday morning was no different.

A morning after Wisconsin held its Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, the Morning Joe host ridiculed reports that many Wisconsinites were adversely impacted by the voter ID laws that had been instituted in the state. While there were actual stories of people who had found themselves unable to take part in the franchise due to the measures passed by Gov. Scott Walker and a GOP legislature, Scarborough poo-pooed them because the Republican voter turnout in the state was the highest in 36 years.

From Media Matters’ transcript of the show:


MIKA BRZEZINSKI (HOST): So to that point, GOP turnout easily broke the record set 36 years ago in 1980 with nearly 1.1 million people participating.

JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): But I thought there was voter suppression because I sure heard a lot of stories yesterday about voter suppression and these voter I.D. laws. Like I —

MARK HALPERIN: Imagine how big turnout would have been without those.

SCARBOROUGH: Were people not thrown in jail, Willie? I thought they got water hoses out yesterday.

WILLIE GEIST (HOST): Not last night, no.

SCARBOROUGH: Not last night?

BRZEZINSKI: That was in the media.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh because in the media all day yesterday all I heard were stories, breathless stories after breathless stories.

BRZEZINSKI: It’s a story. It was a little bit overplayed.


JoeScar was actually following up on actions he had taken the night before, when he took to Twitter to call on Wisconsin voters to stop “whining” about being disenfranchised because of the record voter turnout numbers. When one writer suggested to him that he was dismissing individual stories from voters who were seeing real-life effects of the laws, he doubled-down and said it was a “false narrative.”



Of course, there are more than “one or two examples,” as Scarborough requested. On Tuesday, ThinkProgress reported that a number of college students were facing issues voting due to their precincts not accepting their student IDs. Lines were also extremely long, leading to confusion and many voters giving up due to the wait. (Wait times were even longer for those trying to register that day.) Last week, The Nation’s Ari Berman highlighted several cases of Wisconsin voters who were being denied the right to vote because they could not meet the state’s requirement for an ID.

Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins took Joe to task for telling Wisconsin residents to stop whining:

Oh, for sure. It’s just “whining,” this whole not having a legal remedy to getting one’s vote stolen. And it’s especially déclassé, this “whining,” because the turnout in this particular primary election is slated to be so high. I’m not sure if Scarborough truly understands how voting actually works. It doesn’t occur to him that maybe you could have especially high voter turnout and an especially high rate of stolen votes simultaneously. It’s also not clear how these voters will get their votes back if they cease all “whining.”

It’s sufficient to say that Scarborough does not know what he’s talking about, an evergreen news story if there ever was. Because if he spent even three minutes exploring this matter on Google (or had whoever does that at MSNBC do it for him), he’d learn all sorts of interesting things about the state of voter disenfranchisement in Wisconsin.

Aside from hearing the stories of other Wisconsin residents who were thrown into the same Kafkaesque nightmare as Frank, he’d learn that the state officials tasked with explaining how to cast a vote in this new electoral regime don’t seem to be able to do so. He’d learn that the voter ID law has left a public education campaign that the state was required by law to embark upon as an unfunded mandate. He’d learn that conservative Judge Richard A. Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, among other complaints, says that the law is definitely a form of poll tax.

But, perhaps the biggest piece of proof that Republicans are using this law to try to win in November came on Tuesday night, when a GOP lawmaker accidentally let the cat out of the bag. Speaking to a Wisconsin reporter, Rep. Glenn Grothman bragged that the voter ID restrictions would turn Wisconsin for the Republican nominee for the White House.

“Well I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”

So, yeah, Scarborough is full of shit, as usual.

Justin Baragona is the editor and publisher of Contemptor. Prior to starting the site, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He currently resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
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